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Old 04-09-2013, 09:11 AM   #1  
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Default advice about future careers and university / life

Hi all,

I'm interested in your opinions about my situation

So I am in my third year of a four year degree (to become a pharmacist) and while I love what I am learning while I am actually at university, I absolutely hate the actual profession. I have been completing my first work placement and I feel like I am just stuck in a retail store as a cashier. And when I think about spending the rest of my life (or even a year) in that environment...it makes me feel like i want to vomit.

I'm terrified because I have spent such a large amount of money getting this far in the degree and i want to actually have that piece of paper so say that i have completed the degree, but I desperately never want to work as a pharmacist.

Some of you may wonder why i continued when i realized that i hated the degree (and I will admit now that some of these reasons are pathetic), I was always given the expectation that I would attend university, but I was never really afforded the choice of what I did. I didn't know during school what I wanted to do and instead of encouraging me to find out and explore, my parents (my mother) found out the degrees that are done at the small local university and essentially forced me into it. (Also I am actually good at the profession.). I felt pressured by my parents to take this option and have been ridiculously unhappy ever since, the worst part being that I am not able to tell them how unhappy that I am because their only response is: too bad, do you think we were always happy? Add to that I have been stuck in this tiny little town where everyone knows you and you can't even grown and change because no matter what you do it will be ridiculed.

I don't have the expectation of waking up every day and being stupidly happy, i know that people's lives have ups and downs, but when I think about my future and all I can think is "what is the point? If I am going to be this unhappy, I may as well not bother in even thinking about a future"

I'm desperate to leave and never come back, but I know that I don't have the financial means, the ability to get a job or the support that I would need to actually make a change.

I suppose what I am really asking is have you ever been in a situation like this and what did you do to change it?

and should I tough out 2013/2014 to get the degree and then I will have more stability to make some decisions?

thanks,

(sorry the post is a bit of a ramble, its the first time I have actually put my situation down in words and It kinda got to me )

Oh and I am in Australia so university structure etc may be a bit different.
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Old 04-09-2013, 09:28 AM   #2  
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A friend of mine completed her pharmacy degree but found herself unhappy in that environment. She found a job at a lab and likes it very much. Your degree and medical experience open up different jobs - even different environments within pharmacy.

I left college, went to school to become a pet stylist, and supported myself with that as I went back to college to finish my undergraduate. I am now in graduate school, and I intend to teach community college, but sometimes you have to expand your thinking to find where you'll be happy. Your potential is limitless.
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Old 04-09-2013, 09:41 AM   #3  
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Pharmacists here make great money! How about there?

I guess I can't see living my entire life in a job I hate! You will have a lot of skills that you could work in a lab as pupmom said or how about Pharmaceutical sales? That make great money too!

Jen
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Old 04-09-2013, 10:12 AM   #4  
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Personally, as you're only a year away, I would complete the program. You can then work and go back to school to find something you love. You might find it more tolerable if you know there's something else to look forward to.

It would be easier to get a second degree if you already have one completed. Here there's a BA/BS to RN program. You can get your RN completed in one (intensive) year because you already did the rest of the undergrad stuff.

It sounds like you're parents just aren't very understanding so finish the degree, move away and get financially stable to do what you want.

Best of luck.
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Old 04-09-2013, 10:23 AM   #5  
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Can you get a rotation in a hospital to see if you like that better? Also, can you talk to one of your advisor about other options for your career path?

I actually switched after my 2nd year and although it meant I had to tack on another year to my undergrad, I was happy I made the switch. Is there anything you think you would enjoy?
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Old 04-09-2013, 11:40 AM   #6  
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Because you have invested so much time and money in the pharmacy field at this point, I would be hesitant to give it up. I think at this point you're so far in you might as well finish. That way, you can at least get a good paying job to support yourself while you figure out something else. In the US jobs are really hard to find right now, too. If it's at all similar in Australia, that's another reason to continue on this path at least until you can find a paying job you do love, especially if your family seems unwilling to support you if you do make this change. As suggested, is there an academic advisor you could talk to about other career options in this field? Maybe there are pharmacy careers you haven't thought of that you would like more. It would be a shame to really hate your job, but I think you should explore all options before you write this off.

Here's a story: My friend's husband got his pharmacy degree here in the U.S. He hated it. I don't remember who he worked for, but it was a big drug store chain. He started a second career in fisheries research that paid much less, but he enjoyed it, but kept his certifications up and did continuing ed(?) for pharmacy. He met my friend, got married, they started having kids, and talked about his returning to pharmacy to help support the family. He did, but he got a job at a much smaller pharmacy that is only part of a small 3-store chain. He is much happier there than at the big corporate atmosphere, and he still gets to indulge his love of wildlife with his fishing and hunting hobbies on the weekend. And his family is much better off.
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Old 04-09-2013, 01:10 PM   #7  
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I agree with just finishing the program. I completed my PhD while working in a temporary college teaching position, and realized that I could not teach for my whole life! It's just not my personality. But by that point there was no way I was going to give up on getting the degree. Since completing the degree I've worked in several positions that were not directly in my field, but which would not have been possible without the degree.

So I would definitely talk to an advisor and if you have a career center at your university, hook up with them. They will help you market your transferable skills for a job you actually want.

Good luck!
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Old 04-09-2013, 02:31 PM   #8  
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My fiance had a hard time making up his mind for his degree. He eventually settled on being an accountant. Got a good job at a bank, HATED it. He spent 4 years there, having basically daily panic attacks and getting more and more depressed because he couldn't believe how much he hated his job and how he should have been happy that he even had a job with benefits and time off. He quit and now sells Magic: the Gathering cards online because Magic is his passion and he's good at the card economy. He is a lot happier.

I went to school for computer animation. I love it. I love everything about doing it. I hate the industry. I was already too far into it by the time I realized I couldn't live with the overtime and job instability and fierce competition. So I finished my degree and am doing remedial office work until I figure out what I want to do. Which I still haven't really figured out even 6 years post graduation. I'm currently thankful for never having gone into my field, studios are being shut down left and right and college friends way more talented than I can't find jobs.

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Old 04-09-2013, 03:15 PM   #9  
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omg I only WISH I was near to being a pharmacist! Working in a hospital as a pharmacist is MUCH different than working in retail. I think if you like pharmacy, you would really enjoy the hospital environment.

Plus, being a pharmacist allows you to work anywhere, and you can even do cool stuff like doctors across borders, etc.

I would definitely finish your program and try doing a hospital rotation. If you still don't like it, at least you have your Bachelor of Science and can use that as a jumping off point. I think you are in a great spot, sooooo lucky!

(I'm a pharmacy tech btw)

p.s. I wouldn't work in a retail environment as a pharmacist either, unless I was the manager of the department.

Last edited by BreathingSpace; 04-09-2013 at 03:16 PM.
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Old 04-09-2013, 09:25 PM   #10  
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Definitely complete the degree, you're so close. You never know what your future may hold, so if you have the money, time, and willingness, finish it.

There may even be other jobs that you would qualify for with your background that you've never even thought of yet.

You may be surprised how many people end up in a job that has nothing to do with their degree, but just a degree in ANYTHING is a big step up.

Last edited by Vex; 04-09-2013 at 09:26 PM.
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Old 04-09-2013, 09:36 PM   #11  
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I am a pharmacist! I interned all through school at a retail pharmacy and a little after graduation. It was miserable.

Then, I got a job at a small hospital. I love it. I feel like I am using all those things I learned in school. I am useful. I can make recommendations and doctors will listen! It's amazing.

I still moonlight for a chain pharmacy. And every time I work there I have to tell myself that the extra money (about $10 more per hour) is not worth the loss of my sanity.

I don't know what sorts of things are available in Australia, but here there are lots of other things besides retail pharmacy available. And most of them don't want to make you tear your hair out.

Feel free to message me about it if you'd like!

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Old 04-10-2013, 09:07 AM   #12  
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I have quit uni twice, and am restarting in a new field in a few months. I also spent all of my 20s trying to live up to other people's expectations. Now I'm 31 and starting AGAIN I'll say this:

Given that you're enjoying the coursework, stick with it. I'm all for quitting something that makes you miserable, but as you're nearly finished, I'd stick it out. Do some career research and some soul searching. What are some options for what you would really LOVE to do? What other jobs can you get with a pharmacy degree?

Say, you want to become a doctor, for example. I'm not sure how it works in Aus, but in the UK, you might get direct admission to 3rd year of a new degree with a full pharmacy degree under your belt. But - what if you want to go and study literature? Look at transferable credits - here, most unis take into account your previous study from the past 5 years towards another degree. Like, I did 3 years of law school, and can transfer credits to my new computer science degree. A lot of places take into account that the first year is a lot of learning study skills etc, and your assignments and exams that make up your final grade don't start until 2nd or 3rd year.

Another thing is your earning potential. I've been stuck in the "admin trap" for over a decade without a degree. If you want to change direction, a lot of your ability to do that is going to come down to money, unfortunately. You can pull yourself out of the low-income job pool with a degree. Much better to be in a job you hate for a few years, but putting money aside, with light at the end of the tunnel, than to be stuck in a call centre barely able to pay the mortgage, let alone think about saving for a career change.

Another thing is part-time or distance learning. I'm doing my degree through the Open University, part time. That's a great option if you want to retrain. Ok, I won't graduate for 6 years or so, but after 2-3 years, I'll have enough study under my belt to start shooting for entry-level programming jobs. What are your options for changing field slightly by doing a postgrad?

There's plenty options, but get yourself a plan, and something that's in line with what YOU want. Better to have to explain this one to your family and deal with the awkwardness now, than to set yourself up for years of misery and resentment through living life by someone else's plan.

But yeah, finish the degree if you can. It'll open up so many more options for making money and doing further studies. That will give you so much more room to manoeuvre later than dropping out will, just think long-term. Once you've got the next year and a bit out of the way, that degree is on your CV FOR LIFE.

And... I wish you all the best with whatever you decide to do, I know how much this stuff can mess with your head
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Old 04-10-2013, 11:00 AM   #13  
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You sound exactly like me. My Dad pushed me to go to college but never understood precisely what that entails - he still doesn't. He didn't care that I didn't know what I wanted to do, didn't understand that it scared me, and never took whether I was happy or not into account. The result was me bumbling around for five - not four, five - years. I bounced from one major to a second and then to a third and that wasn't a fit for me either. BUT - I got the degree, took bits of what I learned, mashed them up with natural skills, and found my way into a job that isn't even in my field.

My programming professor was the same way. He got 3 years into his degree and realized he didn't want to do it anymore. At some point in his later years, he went back to school for programming and ended up loving it.

The way I see it is, this is just one step. There are options, you aren't trapped. That degree is worth a lot of money so you can at least know you have the ability to live. My degree pays a lot less...so getting back to school is a bit trickier. Finish your degree and ask yourself what do you actually want to do? Where do you see yourself? This may be a particular job/field or it might be a general idea of, "I like this type of environment", "I need to be intellectually stimulated to be happy", "I need a routine", "I need variety", etc.. That's what I think of, I have never been able to say, "I want to be THIS". It was always more like, "I want to work in this sort of environment with these sorts of tasks" and that's okay. This job I'm at now employs some of my skills while it challenges others. Now I'm thinking of taking a different route, branching off of my degree, and building a rather unique skillset. And that's kinda cool if you think about it because how many people will have your exact set of skills? You'll have so many places to pull from!

Or, like others have suggested, you could find a job in your field but just not in a retail environment.
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Old 04-10-2013, 11:18 AM   #14  
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You learn a lot of diff things in university about the paths you want or dont want to take. I started uni thinking I was going to be an elementary school teacher in french language now I'm doing a degree in german and another in psych. I spend most of my time researching the WW2 time period (thats not all that german studies are its just what I tend to write papers on, my speciality i guess) and studying brain structures. A far cry from teaching children french. I say finish the degree then find out what interests you more. Maybe try some elective courses out.

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Old 04-10-2013, 05:42 PM   #15  
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I'm not a pharmacist but I work in the pharmaceutical industry. There are lots of opportunities for pharmacists in that industry - everything from clinical research to product development. Really interesting stuff, nothing like working in a drug store, and the pay is good.
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